I thought it would be about time I could talk about Mom and her other horse, Rugby. She is having a hard time talking about it so I said I could do it. It’s actually about Going Away.
I first learned about Going Away when I was just a colt, and out in the big field with my horse mommy and lots of other mommys and colts. One of Mommy’s friends was going to have a colt, too and she was in the barn. We were waiting for her to join us with her new colt, but one night, the lights were on in the barn all night, lots of people came and went, the vet’s truck was there a long time. Then in the morning we heard Mommy’s friend in her stall. She was walking around and rustling the straw a lot and nickering. As the day went on she nickered less and less. Then she was out in the paddock resting a few days and was very sad, and she had no new colt with her. Mommy was sad, and said that the new colt went Away. I was curious about that, but didn’t think much more about it.
When I was a two-year-old and brought in with lots of others to start being trained, one day I walked into my stall and there was a limp and fuzzy thing in the corner under my feed tub. I checked it out with my nose. It wasn’t breathing and made no noise, and it didn’t move. I was very curious. All the other animals around the barn always ran away when I pawed at them with my foot or poked them with my nose but this one didn’t do anything. My neighbor next door said, “don’t touch it! It’s gone Away!” “What’s that?” I asked. You mean it’s somewhere else and coming back? “No,” he said. It’s like, not alive. It’s gone Away.” “Oh” I said. The limp and fuzzy thing stayed there all day and didn’t move. Finally one of the people who came into my stall noticed it and said, “Oh no! There’s a dead rat in here!” and went and got a pitchfork and took it away. So that’s what Gone Away meant – the people said it was dead and took it away.
Ok, time went on, and I was at the racetrack, and it was very exciting. There were horses everywhere all the time and at night it was quiet and we would talk a lot about everything. One day I was next to a horse that had been racing a long time and he told me lots of stuff about other tracks. He was even in a race with an accident and saw a horse Go Away, and he told me all about it. He said the horse was in terrible pain and shock and could not get up. Couldn’t get up! Oh my, that’s the worst. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t get up. It seemed to me that Going Away involved being limp, laying down, and not getting back up — so I asked him if the people came and took it away, and he said, yes, they put up screens so you couldn’t see, and they got him and he was gone. He shook his head, lowered his lips and blubbered a little. Horses never cry so I knew it was a profoundly terrible thing to him, and all the rest of us in the barn kept quiet the rest of the night thinking about it.
I finally left the track and found my girl, and I’ve been at her place a while. I knew when I came that she had other horses but because she loved me so much I knew it was ok not to be jealous of Rugby. He was a cool horse, her very favorite and to tell you the truth, we all sort of were in awe of him and how much he had done. He had evented and horse showed for ten years and knew all the cross country courses around and won lots and lots of ribbons and prizes, so many Mommy packed them away in boxes. But Rugby was starting to feel bad, and he was getting older. Mommy did all she could for him. She nursed him and medicated him and spent hours with him knowing it was not going to get better. He got worse and worse and medicine did not help. One night I heard him moaning that he wanted to lay down and Go Away. I knew he was sad and it made all of us sad, too. Then, the vets came out and there was lots of discussion. Rugby was by himself in the barn and paddock because he was wobbly and couldn’t walk very well. One morning a vet came and they walked outside with Rugby and finally Rugby got to lay down, and he Went Away. Mommy cried a lot of tears that day and that week and she’s still crying tears on and off. When the people came and took him away we all knew that Rugby was going across the Rainbow Bridge and would be with his horse Mommy again and happy and sound and able to run and jump again and we were happy. But Mommy wasn’t happy, she is still sad, so I thought I would write this for her, and for Amy, too, who also had The Sainted Mare Go Away recently.
We hope all of you understand that Going Away is what happens to all of us. We horses know that. But we are living now and today and we don’t worry about tomorrow. Just today.
I know how good Rugby was and some day I think I will be as good as Rugby if Mommy trains me and takes time to explain all that stuff to me that Rugby knew. I think I can do it. I try, and I will keep trying. He was a good role model for me and all my friends, Hamish and George, so we all are going to try and help Mommy from being sad about Rugby going Away. We love you. Stop crying, Mommy. It will be OK.